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In the News - Friday, August 15, 2008


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)


Three Rivers School

embarks on 80th year

   On Wednesday morning, Aug. 20, Three Rivers Union School students will begin the 2008/2009 school year. The opening of the doors on this day will mark 80 years of TRUS — 1928-2008.
   In the late 19th century, many small settlements grew along each fork of the Kaweah River and schools became established in several locations to educate the area’s children.
   Most students lived several miles, at least, away from their respective schools, and their mode of travel to and from was by foot or on mule or horseback. Many had to ford creeks or one or more of the forks of the Kaweah along their route to school. Some students would live with relatives or another family nearer to the school site during the week and return home only on the weekends.
   Cove School was founded Sept. 9, 1873, the first school in the area. The school building was originally a log cabin on the southwest side of the South Fork of the Kaweah River in the area that was known as Cherokee Flat and is today the Cherokee Oaks subdivision. Many students had to ford the South Fork of the Kaweah River to attend school.
   In 1885, the location of Cove School was moved across the South Fork river to property donated by Sam Kelly at the present-day intersection of Old Three Rivers and Blossom drives. In 1910, the name of Cove School was changed to Three Rivers School and, in 1917, a new building for Three Rivers School replaced the old clapboard one-room building.
   In 1920, legislation passed that required every elementary school to become part of a high school district. Three Rivers voters approved unionization to the Woodlake High School District, founded in 1914, over the more established Exeter Union High School.
   In 1927, the controversial issue of unification was approved by local voters and the Three Rivers Union School District was formed. A new building that consisted of two classrooms — one that was originally intended to be the auditorium — was constructed along the state highway on the site where the school is located today, and the far-flung schools in the area were consolidated into one. All Three Rivers students began attending there in 1928; Mary McDowall became the eighth-grade teacher, as well as the first superintendent/principal, a position she held until 1969.
   School bus service began in 1930, when a GMC Panel was confiscated from a bootlegger and acquired by Sequoia National Park, then donated to TRUS. Fred Ogilvie was the bus driver, as well as custodian, handyman, learning assistant, disciplinarian, and more and was a fixture at the school with his wife, Rena Alles Ogilvie, until 1964.
   In 1950, in lieu of relocating the school site farther up the highway, land was purchased on either side of the present site. As a result, the upper athletic field was created and a row of classrooms added to the school’s existing four classrooms.
   Although the original auditorium was partitioned off for classrooms and plans for a gym scrapped due to the onset of World War II, a state-of-the-art auditorium/gym/cafeteria was finally built in 1994.
   Although students no longer have to wade through a river to get to school and computers have replaced writing slates in the classrooms, the goal at Three Rivers School remains the same 80 years later: to give local children the best possible elementary education in a caring, nurturing, safe environment.

Letter from the superintendent

Community update from TRUS

By Sue Sherwood

   It is time once again for a new school year to begin. The staff at Three Rivers Union School is excited!
   We are all looking forward to welcoming the students and parents and anticipating a year filled with learning, fun, excitement, challenges, and many rewards.
   There are some changes at TRUS this year. Our enrollment numbers continue to decline, which is always difficult to manage.   We graduated a class of 31 eighth-graders last year, our largest class. We have 19 excited kindergartners entering next week.
Suzanne Rich, a 30-year veteran teacher, retired last year. She will be missed, but we know she will not be gone. We will be seeing her as a volunteer and substitute teacher.
   The numbers in grades one through four were such that the board decided it was time to make some multi-grade classrooms. Mrs. Melinda Simonian will teach grades one/two, Mrs. Rika Pearson will teach grades two/three, and Mrs. Linda Warner will teach grades three/four.
   They have all been meeting, planning, and formulating ideas to address the needs of all the children in their classes. Teaching in a multi-age classroom is a challenge but it can also be very rewarding. The teachers will be assisted by Mrs. Margaret Reyes, Mrs. Beth Rohrkemper, and Mrs. Lynda LeFave as instructional aides.
   We will be shortening the kindergarten day from 2 p.m. to 1:15. That change will allow Mrs. Laura Harrison, our kindergarten teacher, to join the primary team for math instruction.
   Grade level groups will come together for the math hour. Mrs. Simonian will teach first, Mrs. Pearson will teach second, Mrs. Harrison will teach third, and Mrs. Warner will teach fourth.
   In addition, Mrs. Jami Beck, Mrs. Kris Axtell, Mr. Manuel Garcia, and Mrs. Katie Despain will teach in grades five through eight, respectively.
   The “After School Homework Club” will again run Mondays through Thursdays from 3:15 to 5 p.m. Mrs. Barbara Merline will be the instructor.
   This is a great way for students to take care of homework before going home. There is no charge for this service.
   In addition, for our parents who work down the hill or have other childcare needs, we will offer afterschool care on campus, privately run by Mrs. Robin Pena, who also is the instructional aide in kindergarten. This program goes from 1:15 to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and costs $3 per hour.
   This is an inexpensive option for parents who need this service.
Marcia Sweet, our band/music instructor for eight years, retired (again) last year. She built an incredible band program at TRUS, and we are grateful our students had the opportunity to learn from her expertise, share her enthusiasm, and experience her passion for music.
   Marcia worked with me this summer to find a replacement for the band/music program. We have hired a bright, talented young woman, Athena Saenz, to fill those shoes. She is eager and ready to join our staff. When you meet her, please welcome her into our Three Rivers family.
   Sue Winters Brown, our resident resource teacher, will share her talents by bringing language, music, and rhythm activities to students in grades one through three. The children know they are in for some fun when they see her coming!
   And, of course, last but not least, the support staff: Gloria Crabtree, Margaret Reyes, Lynda LeFave, Kris Hanggi, James Irvin, and John Crabtree, our bus driver, will be working to help keep things running like a well-oiled machine.
   In addition, the TRUS board of trustees: Kristina Graber, Chantel Medeiros-Horton, Bobbie Harris, Scott Sherwood, and Bob Burke will lead and support us throughout the school year.
   As always, I am so impressed by the support and encouragement our young people receive from every aspect of the community. From the individuals who donate their time and talents to the art program, to the people who support the TRUS Foundation and Eagle Booster Club, to the community organizations who contribute money and time, to the churches and support groups who offer encouragement and love, to the volunteers who work in different ways to enrich and strengthen our programs; all of them are to be acknowledged and applauded. I am proud to be part of such an incredible community!
   Raising children in today’s world is hard and it takes a variety of caring adults to help them become responsible, productive, contributing citizens. All of the staff at Three Rivers School is committed to doing our part to make this happen.
   It’s obvious that 2008-2009 is going to be another great year. Thank you, Three Rivers!
   This is Sue Sherwood’s 13th year as TRUS superintendent.

Work at Slick Rock underway

   After several project redesigns and years of planning, the construction of the new boat ramp and parking lot at the Slick Rock Recreation Area on the east end of Lake Kaweah is underway. The contractor, Eric Ammon Inc. of Northern California, moved onto the site last week and started moving dirt Tuesday, August 12.
   Phil Deffenbaugh, Lake Kaweah’s manager, said the design/build project will cost approximately $1.5 million and be completed by the end of the year.

  “The contractor has actually been involved with the project for the past three years,” Deffenbaugh said. “They also did part of the work on the dike at the Best Western motel, so they have experience working in Three Rivers.”
   The enhancement of the recreational facilities at Lake Kaweah was made possible after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials secured a Cal Boating grant. The project was planned to mitigate the loss of some of the lake’s recreational amenities due to the enlargement of the basin in 2004.
   Deffenbaugh says that the local community will realize some immediate benefits of the project as soon as the 2009 season. The location at the entrance to Three Rivers is bound to drive some more of the boaters and river swimmers to retail services and tourist outlets in Three Rivers.
   The attractive design of the new Slick Rock launching facility will retain most of the boulders and character of the landscape at the site. The new road, which skirts the hill on the northeast end of the existing parking area, features an expansive view of the canyon where the Kaweah River flows into Lake Kaweah.
   This access road will share its entrance with the existing Slick Rock turnoff. This will eliminate traffic entering and leaving the roadway from two points in the vicinity.
   Deffenbaugh also said there’s an extensive bedrock mortar archaeological site near the vicinity of the construction. Richard Perry, an archaeologist with the USACE, has been onsite to monitor grading and protect the integrity of the cultural resources.
   Recreational users will be able to access both the river and the lake. The site with picnic areas and restrooms will be open year-round from sunrise to 9 p.m. There will be a facilities host to assist visitors and ensure that everyone is aware of the fee to launch a boat or park at the site.
   Day users will pay $4 per vehicle. A seasonal pass will also be available for $30.
   The rising and lowering of water levels will create a range of recreational opportunity that will change with the season.

  “I think we will all be pleased with the outcome of the project,” Deffenbaugh said. “The parking area is actually six or seven feet below the level of the highway, so it won’t be a distraction for passing motorists.”
   Deffenbaugh also announced that once the Slick Rock project is completed he will turn his attention to building a basin trail for non-motorized use around the lake. Stay tuned.

Downed power lines

spark North Fork fire

   Dozens of local homeowners who live in isolation a few miles up the forks of the Kaweah River wouldn’t trade their peace and quiet for anything or want to live anywhere else. But when there’s an emergency, there can be some anxious moments waiting for help to arrive.
   What happened to Harley Slate, who lives four miles up the North Fork, is a good case in point. Last Thursday, Aug. 7, when he first heard a tree crash to the ground, he had a feeling there might be some repercussions.
   What he heard next, at approximately 9:15 a..m., was the very distinctive crackling of brush and downed branches being consumed by an approaching brush fire.

  “Talk about some anxious moments,” recalled Annie Hays, who shares the North Fork property with Harley. “It’s a good thing we have an old rotary phone because Harley used it to call the fire department who otherwise might not have arrived until it was too late.”
   Annie, who was not at home at the time the fire broke out, said it was just a simple twist of fate that Harley was still there at that time of morning. He was home later than usual doing some chores, but on a typical weekday would have been long gone.
   From the front porch, Harley could see flames approaching as the down-canyon morning breeze drove them toward the house.

  “There really wasn’t much Harley could do to stop the fire,” Annie said, “because the moment the oak tree fell, the power went off.”
   Annie said there’s an old pump and small water-storage tank nearby but it’s operated by electricity so it was useless. When firefighters arrived a short time later, the flames were 100 feet from the house. There was the necessary clearance around the couple’s home, but given the dry conditions of the current season the property like so many others in the area is a tinder box.
   According to the Tulare County Fire Department incident report, when firefighters arrived the fire was about a half-acre in size with a moderate rate of spread. Within a few minutes, the six engines and 12 firefighters who responded had the blaze under control.
   Annie admitted that this time they had dodged a bullet, but it was apparent they really were not very well prepared in case of fire. Now, she said, they’ve done 500 feet of clearance and are investigating an upgrade to the property’s water system.

  “I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for residents of Three Rivers to have a rotary-style phone to use in case of emergency,” Annie said. “In a situation like this one it always seems like the power goes off so the plug-in phones are no help.”
   Are you prepared? Fire prevention officers will tell you that whatever you have done do more because there are at least two more months until the fire season is declared over.

Local race on November ballot

   The United States presidential election of 2008, scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 4, is bound to be a historic event for several reasons. To name a couple, it’s the first time in U.S. history that two sitting senators will run against each other for president and the first time an African American will be a presidential nominee for a major party.
   But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The two major parties’ candidates have not yet been officially chosen, but the presumptive nominees are John McCain, the senior U.S. senator from Arizona, for the Republican party and Barack Obama, the junior U.S. senator from Illinois, for the Democratic party.
   The formality of appointing the Democratic and Republican candidates will occur at each party’s convention, commencing August 25 and September 1, respectively.
   But U.S. president is not the only race that local voters will have to decide.
   The Woodlake High School board of trustees will have two vacant seats, but there are five candidates from which to decide. Incumbents Kent Owen of Three Rivers and Wayne Hardcastle of Woodlake have both filed to run again. They are being challenged by Woodlake residents Mack Lewis, retired school administrator; Steve Scott Fesperman, science teacher; and Rudy C. Carrasco, high school administrator.
   The Three Rivers School board race will not appear on the ballot. Chantel Medeiros-Horton and Kristina Graber, the incumbents, did not file to retain their seats. Valerie Abanathie, retired TRUS business manager, did file as a candidate, so she will be appointed to the board at the November regular meeting.
   Another person who resides within the Three Rivers Union School District will also be appointed. The process, according to Sue Sherwood, TRUS superintendent/principal, is to notice the community that an appointment will be made, then people may submit their letters of interest.
   After review of the prospective appointees, the board will announce in open session their appointment.
   And to ensure compliance with the state Education Code, this all must occur prior to the annual organizational meeting in December.

Tehipite Fire misbehaves

Fire jumps the line, burns

toward Sierra National Forest

   The Tehipite Fire, ignited by a lightning strike in July, has more than doubled in size in the last two weeks. The blaze, in a remote section of Kings Canyon National Park, is currently approaching 500 acres and just recently jumped the fireline on the southwest side along Tombstone Ridge.
   Leaving the park boundary and entering into the Sierra National Forest is now a possibility. Although there is no threat to any inhabited areas, park fire managers now must coordinate their actions with another agency. The Tehipite Valley trail in Kings Canyon National Park is currently closed to the public.
   The Tehipite Fire is located just west of the Tehipite Valley. It is burning at an elevation of 5,400 to 7,400 feet in vegetation that includes mixed conifer and live oak. The terrain includes steep bluffs and cliffs, making it an extremely difficult fire to control from the ground.
   Lightning fires in the backcountry occur fairly frequently during the summer, and if they pose no threat to lives or property are usually monitored, but allowed to burn naturally.
   Acting much more responsibly than the Tehipite Fire is the newly-discovered Avalanche Fire, burning near Avalanche Pass in Kings Canyon National Park. Located between the Roaring River backcountry ranger station and the Cedar Grove area, the fire is less than an acre in size, burning in red fir at about 9,850 feet elevation.


Advance Therapeutic Massage:

Have it your way

by Kristi Tilchen

   Massage is the manipulation of soft body tissue to promote good health of both the body and mind. Massage reduces stress, relieves physical tension, improves mental response and productivity, aids in the prevention of repetitive stress syndrome, increases cardiovascular efficiency, enhances the immune system, and reduces injury recovery time.
   While most massage therapists provide Swedish style or a light relaxing massage, Advance Therapeutic Massage specializes in a mix of modalities, including Swedish but focusing on deep-tissue techniques.
   Most people think of a massage as a relaxing soothing experience, and although you will feel relaxed and invigorated after a session, deep-tissue massage requires deeper manipulation of the muscles as I work out your knots and soothe painful body tissue.
   Most of my clients have sore muscles, sports injuries, or severe muscle or joint pain. While one session will bring some relief for injuries, often multiple sessions are required.
   I am a graduate of the Utah College of Massage Therapy in Salt Lake City and have been providing therapeutic massage for 10 years. Three Rivers is my primary work location with an office and mobile massage services.
   My Visalia office is open one day a week, usually Wednesday or Thursday. I am on-call for Three Rivers clients seven days a week, including weekends and evenings.
   I also offer chair massage for groups, businesses, and even wedding parties. Gift certificates and spa gift baskets with a one-hour massage certificate are also available.
   It is my primary goal and foremost objective to ensure a satisfying, relaxing, and motivational massage worthy of a repeat performance. I enjoy what I do and hope you will too.
   For more on Advance Therapeutic Massage go to www.deepmassage2die4.com or call 561-6619.
   This article is published as part of the Sequoia Mountain Healers series. The SMH mission is to create opportunities for enhancing health and wellness, encourage and promote diverse healing service, and provide a network for health and wellbeing professionals.


Volunteers needed for

SFCC visitor center

   The Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce is seeking additional volunteers to help staff the visitor information center operated in partnership with the Three Rivers Historical Society and located in the Three Rivers Historical Museum.
   Volunteers will provide information to area visitors and residents about Three Rivers businesses and recreational opportunities in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Volunteers do not need to be an expert on this region or the parks; the Chamber will provide training.
   Through the summer, the visitor center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; hours may be shortened in the fall.
The Chamber is looking for folks who can staff the visitor center in four-hour shifts, one day a week. At this time, the Chamber particularly needs folks for shifts on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
   Benefits include, but are not limited to: meeting people from around the world in an air-conditioned office; accessing free high-speed Internet (this facility is now also a wireless hot spot); free training; and learning new skills.
   This is potentially a great opportunity for home-schooled young adults (age 16 and older, with parent), folks needing community-service hours, and others who care about the economic health of Three Rivers and surrounding communities.
   In addition to operating the visitor center, the Chamber works on a variety of projects that benefit from volunteerism: providing exhibits and/or information booths at fairs, festivals, travel, and trade shows; creating outreach publications, such as brochures or newsletters, and upgrading the website; organizing local events for businesses and residents; and much, much more.
   Now is the perfect time to donate your time, learn new skills or lend your knowledge and experience. Show your pride in Three Rivers and the national parks in our backyard by volunteering your time today.
   To volunteer with the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce, contact Tom Marshall, volunteer coordinator, at 561-3300.


Keith Budge
Former Three Rivers postmaster
1927 ~ 2008

   Edwin “Keith” Budge, a former resident of Three Rivers, died Sunday, Aug. 10, 2008, at his Visalia home due to Parkinson’s disease. He was 81.
   A celebration of life service will be held Saturday, Aug. 16, 11 a.m., at Salser & Dillard Funeral Chapel, 127 E. Caldwell Ave., Visalia. Burial will be private.
   Keith was born July 10, 1927, in Pocatello, Idaho, to Edwin J. and Mildred Budge. When he was an infant, the family moved to Glendale in Southern California where Keith attended elementary school.
   At age 12, he was enrolled in the Lake Elsinore Military Academy. The family later moved to Coalinga.
   Immediately after graduating from Coalinga High School, Keith served as a U.S. Marine during World War II. Upon his discharge, Keith returned to Coalinga, where he met and, in 1951, married Betty Dale Baker.
   It was during this time that Keith started his long career with the U.S. Postal Service. He worked for the post office in Coalinga for 25 years, and the couple raised their four children there.
   In 1981, Keith transferred to Three Rivers where he became postmaster, stationed at the old post office that is currently Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs.
   Immediately upon moving to Three Rivers, Keith met Don Hise, the former superintendent/principal of Three Rivers School and avid flyfisherman. Keith soon became an expert in fly fishing and also in tying the flies used to fish. Keith was known to barter around town, using his flies as payment.
   He also became involved in the Three Rivers Lions Club, serving as treasurer for several years, and was active in the Three Rivers Gleaners, picking and distributing fruit and vegetables to the community.
   It was under Keith’s leadership that the petition for a new, larger post office was approved. It was ultimately built at its present-day location adjacent to the Village Shopping Center.
   After 17 years as the Three Rivers postmaster, Keith retired in 1998. In total, he worked 42 years for the U.S. Postal Service.
   During his retirement, Keith enjoyed fly fishing and woodworking. In 2002, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but he didn’t let this get in the way of his fly fishing. He enjoyed participating in the Parkinson’s support group in Visalia and raising money for Parkinson’s research.
   Keith and Betty continued to reside in Three Rivers until June 2005 when they relocated to Visalia to be near their two daughters.
Betty, Keith’s wife of 54 years, preceded him in death in November 2005. He continued to reside in Visalia with his dog, Heather.
   He is survived by his children, Rick Budge of Alexandria, Va.,   Donna DeVries of Visalia (formerly of Three Rivers), Debra Turnipseed of Visalia, and Mike Budge of Three Rivers; grandchildren Derek DeVries of Lodi, Jayleen McGrath of Niceville, Fla., Jeanene DeVries of Visalia, Justin Turnipseed of Visalia, and Kelly Budge and sister Kara Cook of Prineville, Ore.; and four great-grandchildren.
   In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to: The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Attn: Tribute Gifts, Church Street Station, P.O. Box 780, New York, NY 10008-0780.

Lon Maxon
1911 ~ 2008

   Lon E. Maxon of Exeter died Wednesday, July 30, 2008, in Visalia. He was 97.
   Lon was born July 8, 1911, in Fresno to Hat and Violet (Busby) Maxon, of the Three Rivers pioneer Maxon family who settled on the upper South Fork during the 19th century.
   Lon attended grammar school in Exeter, Klink, and Reef City. He attended high school at Visalia High School and graduated in 1930 from Coalinga High School.
   On Sept. 10, 1938, Lon married Velda Meinzer. He worked for the Associated Oil Company, Boeing, and Bakersfield Box before beginning his career with the National Park Service.
   From 1951 to 1973, Lon worked at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks as a backcountry trail foreman. He had returned home to the mountains where he had spent so much of his time as a youth.
Upon his retirement, Lon and Velda moved to Arroyo Grande.
   Lon was preceded in death by his wife of 54 years in 1992. At that time, he moved to Exeter to be close to his children.
   He is survived by two daughters, Linda Peck and husband Jim, Lonna Dickey and husband Bob; son Laren Maxon and wife Janette; sister Zella Summers of Fresno; seven grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.
   A memorial service was held Monday, Aug. 11, in Exeter with a private burial in the Maxon family plot at the Exeter Cemetery.

Tony Hogrebe
1926 ~ 2008

   Anthony J. Hogrebe of Visalia died Thursday, Aug. 7, 2008. He was 81.
   Tony was born in 1926 to Anthony and Olga Hogrebe in Wilkes Barre, Penn. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II.
   In 1950, Tony married Ann Glennon. In 1952, Tony went to work as a project manager for the ITT Corporation in New Jersey before transferring with the company to Van Nuys. He retired in 1986 after 34 years with the company.
   That same year, he and Ann relocated to Three Rivers. Tony was a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Visalia and a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars-Post 3939 (Three Rivers).
   Tony was preceded in death by a brother, Edward Hogrebe, and his sister, Olga Stecko.
   He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Ann; two sons, Anthony J. Hogrebe Jr. and wife Elizabeth of Brea and John Hogrebe of Visalia; and four brothers, James Hogrebe of Aveno, N.J., Robert Hogrebe of Wilkes Barre, Penn.; Lawrence Hogrebe of Venice, Fla., and John Hogrebe of Wilkes Barre, Penn.
   A memorial mass was held Wednesday, Aug. 13, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. A private interment at the Visalia District Cemetery followed.


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